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      Tech ideas to help raise awareness of hearing loss

      For the last couple of years, Microsoft UK has hosted an Ideas Generator event for charities. It’s a chance to explore how charities can harness the latest technology to provide real-world solutions. This year, the Microsoft team chose Action on Hearing Loss to attend along with four other charities.

      By: Kevin Taylor | 14 November 2019

      The Ideas Generator


      The process starts with each charity working through a ‘problem statement’ before the event. This explores the issues that technology might be able to address.

      This year’s event took place in October. Hosted at Microsoft UK’s headquarters in Reading, our team, drawn from across the charity, were eager to make a start.

      We focussed on addressing a key issue from our problem statement. How can we use technology to raise awareness of hearing loss and deafness? And can it play a pivotal role in reducing the average 10-year wait before people take action and seek professional advice from their GP or audiologist?
      The Microsoft team supporting us at the event volunteered their time and were experts from retail, tech, research and marketing. Some had direct experience with hearing loss and tinnitus, while others were new to the topic. They were all astounded by the devastating impact that unaddressed hearing loss can have and keen to help find a solution.

      Coffee Break Innovation

      First, to get the creative juices flowing, an exercise in team working and creative innovation – make a cappuccino to introduce ourselves to the Microsoft team.

      AoHL coffee print created at Microsoft ideas day

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Team PionEar 

      With our team name, PionEar, chosen, it was down to serious work. We were encouraged to pitch ideas and solutions, no matter how wacky or off-the-wall they might be.

      Microsoft ideas day

      First, we set the scene by describing the social isolation and stigma that hearing loss and deafness can bring. To help start conversations around the issue, the team unveiled a radical artificial intelligent headphone that let users set up a ‘hearing’ profile, matched to their hearing ability. In noisy environments, the headphones could raise the volume (to a safe level). In addition, push notifications from the device to a smartphone app could inform users about their hearing health. This would be a good way to keep users engaged about their hearing, and flag up if they need to visit their GP or audiologist.

      And the winner is…

      Action on Hearing Loss! The team were so happy and can be rightly proud of their achievement. The judges said the winning idea was one that ‘rode the current trends in technology’ and ‘created an industry standard that normalised the issue.’ The prize is a two-day workshop hosted by Microsoft to take the idea to the next stage.

      Find out more

      You can find out more about the work we do to improve assistive technology for hearing loss on our website.

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      We're really proud of everyone who's a part of Action on Hearing Loss, and hope you'll feel inspired to become a part of our community.​

      We campaign for changes that make life better for people who are confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.

      Our ears are our organs of hearing and balance. They have three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear.